January 18, 2008


About twenty years ago, a holiday for Martin Luther King, Jr. was an idea that was just getting started. It wasn't yet a national holiday. The State of California had declared it a holiday, but different communities--and different school districts--observed it on different days.

I was a teenager then. The day that my school observed this holiday, a friend and I decided to go for a bike ride. We headed south from Burbank, headed over the Hollywood Hills, and ended up at the Griffith Observatory. Locking our bikes up, we spent several hours exploring the observatory's exhibits before hopping back on our bikes and heading back home.

Yesterday, Ginger and I drove up to the observatory. It's a good place for us, since admission is free, and we still don't have jobs.

The observatory recently underwent $93 million dollar renovation and expansion which kept the observatory closed for three years. When it reopened a year ago, so many people wanted to visit that a reservation system was put in place in order to avoid gridlock in the building's narrow corridors and on the winding roads leading up to the observatory. Even with the reservation system, it was very crowded. We know; we were there.

The crowds inside the observatory are not quite as massive now. It could be that the initial excitement has died down somewhat. Or, it could be the signs on the front doors keeping people away:

While there, Ginger and I enjoyed some delicious butternut squash soup, which we ate on the observatory's patio overlooking Hollywood. (Burbank, by the way, is just on the other side of the hill with the Hollywood Sign. I plan on taking a hike up there soon.) We stayed until it was time to pick the kids up from school.

We had a wonderful day, and spent hardly any money. But it's really not fair to deny the kids the opportunity to visit such a wonderful place. So this afternoon, we're going back.

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